Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight

VMS Eve and VSS Enterprise in a captive carry test flight

Thursday's captive carry test flight of the VSS Enterprise spacecraft, slung underneath the mid-belly of VMS Eve. On a real flight, Eve will carry Enterprise to altitude, whereupon it will detach, fire its rocket motor, and zoom upwards to over 100km altitude.

The Richard Branson-backed Virgin Galactic company reached another milestone on Thursday, as Scaled Composites—the firm building Galactic’s spacecraft and mothership—successfully completed a “captive” flight test will crew aboard.

The test saw VMS Eve (the mothership) carry VSS Enterprise (the spacecraft) on a flight of 6 hours 12 minutes duration, during which the crew evaluated all of the spaceship’s systems and functions from end to end in the air.

This was the first time that VSS Enterprise had flown with two crewmembers aboard.

As planned, the spaceship remained attached to VMS Eve for the duration of the flight and numerous combined vehicle systems tests were conducted.

It was the 33rd flight of VMS Eve, and the third captive flight of VSS Enterprise.

VMS Eve and VSS Enterprise in a captive carry test flight

A good view showing VSS Enterprise spacecraft slung underneath the belly of the twin-fuselage VMS mothership.

VMS Eve and VSS Enterprise in a captive carry test flight

The test flight took place over the Mojave Desert. "Chase aircraft" tagged along to monitor the flight.

Both vehicles are being developed for Virgin Galactic by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne which in 2004 claimed the US$10m Ansari X prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft.

Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles share much of the same basic design but are being built to carry six fare paying passengers on sub-orbital spaceflights, allowing an out-of-the-seat zero gravity experience and offering astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space.

Virgin Galactic has already taken around US$45m in deposits for spaceflight reservations from over 330 people wanting to experience space for themselves.

Adapted from information issued by Virgin Galactic.

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